The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Irma Grese)
|EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENDANT IRMA GRESE
HELENE GRESE, sworn, examined by Major CRANFIELD - I am the sister of Irma Grese, 20 years old, and live at Wrecken in Wreckensburg. My father was an agricultural worker, and I have two sisters and two brothers. My mother died in 1936. When she was 14 years old, my sister Irma worked on the farm of a peasant in a village near where we lived. From the time that she entered the Concentration Camp Service I saw her twice. In 1943 she came home on leave, and the only thing she told us about her work was that her duties consisted in supervising prisoners so that they should not escape. I saw her when she left Auschwitz in 1945, and she told me that she had been working for a considerable period in a sort of a post office, receiving and distributing mail, and that sometimes she had been detailed to guard duties.
From your knowledge of your sister, do you think her a person likely to beat the prisoners under her charge? - No. In our schooldays when, as it sometimes happens, girls were quarrelling and fighting, my sister had never the courage to fight, but on the contrary she ran away.
Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - When your sister went to work on the farm when she was 14, how long did she stay there? - About six months to a year.
Where did she go from there? - She went to Hohenluchen as a sort of nurse, and then to a small dairy in Fürstenberg, where she worked, I believe, twelve to eighteen months.
Did she go straight from there into the S.S.? - Yes, in 1942 she went to Ravensbrück, which was very near us.
How long before 1943 was it since you had seen your sister? - In spring, 1942, when she was working in the dairy.
When she came home in 1943, did your father give her a thrashing? - I did not see that, but he was quarrelling with her because she was in the S.S.
Did he forbid her to come to the house again? - I do not know. She never came again.
Was not that because she told you what she did at Ravensbrück? - I do not know why.
You would be 16 at that time; you never asked your sister what she was doing in the concentration camp, and she never told you? - She told us she was supervising the prisoners working inside the compound, and she had to see that they were doing their work well and that they did not escape. We asked her: "What do the prisoners get for food, and why have they been sent to a concentration camp?" and she answered that she was not allowed to talk to the prisoners and did not know what sort of food they got.
Why did your father lose his temper with her? - Because he was very much against her being in the S.S. We all wanted to belong to the Bund Deutscher Mädchen, but he never allowed us to do so. I have not seen my father since April, 1945.
IRMA GRESE, sworn, examined by Major CRANFIELD - I was born on 7th October, 1923. In 1938 I left the elementary school and worked for six months on agricultural jobs at a farm, after which I worked in a shop in Luchen for six months. When I was 15 I went to a hospital in Hohenluchen, where I stayed for two years. I tried to become a nurse but the Labour Exchange would not allow that and sent me to work in a dairy in Fürstenberg. In July, 1942, I again tried to become a nurse, but the Labour Exchange sent me to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, although I protested against it. I stayed there until March, 1943, when I went to Birkenau Camp in Auschwitz. I remained in Auschwitz until January, 1945.
Will you tell the Court the various duties you did during the period you were at Auschwitz? - At first I did telephone duties in the Blockführer's room. For two days I was transferred as a sort of light punishment to be in charge of the Strafkommando which carried stones from outside into the camp. During 1943 I had the Strassenbaukommando, and I also had the gardening working party for about two months in the autumn. In December, 1943, I was in the parcels office censoring mail in place of Volkenrath, and from May until December, 1944, I was in Compound "C." I was transferred then for about two weeks to Auschwitz No. 1 to be in charge of two blocks in the men's compound, where prisoners went to work during the day. I left Auschwitz on 18th January, 1945, for Ravensbrück, and in the following March came to Belsen.
You were in charge of the Strassenbaukommando; do you remember whether the accused Koper was in that Kommando or not? - No, I am quite sure she was not there.
Apart from being in charge of this Kommando and the Strafkommando carrying stones, were you at any time at Auschwitz in charge of any other punishment Kommando? - No.
When you were in "C" Lager, were there any other Aufseherinnen there? - Another six or seven who were changed every week. I was the senior.
How many blocks and how many prisoners were there in "C" Lager? - Twenty-eight blocks where prisoners were accommodated, one block for food, food stores, one office, company office, two stores with underwear and clothing, two or three blocks for latrines and two wash-houses. There were approximately 30000 prisoners, all of whom were Hungarians, whilst the Blockältesten were Czechoslovaks. The prisoners came and went, the highest number being 30000 but I generally had about 20000. Although the prisoners changed in numbers, the number of Aufseherinnen remained the same. When the transports arrived the prisoners had been already selected and they were found fit for work. They went into the wash - house, washed, had their hair cut and then were distributed.
You have told us that there were 28 living huts, how many persons could they properly accommodate? - The normal accommodation would have been for 100 or a maximum of 300, but I had to take in 1000 in each block because the camp was overcrowded. In some of the blocks there were bunks large enough for five people to sleep in, but in most of the blocks there were neither beds nor bunks.
How did the prisoners behave? - In the beginning when there were smaller numbers of them and they had sufficient to eat they were quite all right. Later on when I had twenty to thirty thousand they behaved like animals, when food was a bit more scarce. Then at food distribution when people carried the food from the kitchen to the blocks, at nearly every corner there were 20 or 30 people who waited to pounce upon them and take the food away. With regard to sanitary conditions, in the beginning it was quite all right, but later on when the camp was overcrowded wherever you went it was just as if the prisoners thought that any place was good enough for a latrine, and the proper latrines were ruined by throwing all sorts of stuff into them, and then they simply ceased to function.
How old were you at this time, when you were in "C" Lager? - Twenty.
Did you carry a stick at Auschwitz? - Yes, an ordinary walking-stick.
Did you carry a whip at Auschwitz? - Yes, made out of cellophane it in the weaving factory in the camp. It was a very light whip, but if I hit somebody with it, it would hurt. After eight days Kommandant Kramer prohibited the whips, but we nevertheless went on using them. I never carried a rubber truncheon.
Did you, at Belsen, carry any kind of weapon? - No.
Will you explain to the Court on what occasions you struck prisoners, and the reason why you did it? - In the beginning I did not use anything at all, but later on, when the crowds in Camp "C" became larger, then a great deal was stolen and prisoners did not obey my orders, even when they were quite light orders. Every day there were complaints of things stolen in the kitchen, and I put two Aufseherinnen in charge and gave them orders to keep their eyes open and whenever they found somebody on the spot who stole anything, to give them a good thrashing. In the beginning every prisoner had two blankets, but when the crowds became bigger I had to see that everybody got a blanket and therefore each prisoner only got one. We found they had cut up all those blankets and made all sorts of things out of them - shoes, jackets, etc. I gave strict orders that everything which had been made out of blankets was to be returned at once, but I got nothing at all, so then I ordered the control of all the blocks and also personal searches of the prisoners. On those occasions I used my whip. The Jewish Lagerälteste gave the signal for parades, but there were always prisoners who tried to evade them, and when I found the numbers were not right I gave orders to the Aufseherin to count again and again until those who were missing had been found, and I said the parades would go on until the number was right.
Have you ever taken an individual prisoner and beaten her until she was bleeding or fell senseless to the ground, or have you ever kicked a prisoner whom you have struck to the ground? - Never.
At Belsen, have you ever struck a prisoner at all? - Yes, but only with my hand. The condition of the prisoners was so bad that one had almost a horror of them.
You heard Volkenrath describe the occasion on which an S.S. woman called Buchhalter was punished. Were you present? - Yes. Kommandant Hoess ordered me to give her the last two of the 25 strokes with which she was punished by the order of Reichsführer Himmler. I was then 20.
When you were in "C" Lager, where did the orders come from for Appelle? - For the roll-call for counting purposes it was I who gave the orders. The signal was a blow on a special whistle given either by the Aufseherin, Lagerälteste or the Kapo.
Where did the order come from for what we call "selection parades"? - That came by telephone from a Rapportführerin or from Oberaufseherin Dreschel.
When the order came were you told what the parade was for? - No.
What were the prisoners supposed to do when the whistle went? - Fall in in fives, and it was my duty to see that they did so. Dr. Mengele then came and made the selection. As I was responsible for the camp my duties were to know how many were leaving and I had to count them, and I kept the figures in a strength book. After the selection took place they were sent into "B" Camp, and Dreschel telephoned and told me that they had gone to another camp in Germany for working purposes or for special treatment, which I thought to be the gas chamber. I then put in my strength book either so many for transfer to Germany to another camp, or so many for S.B. (Sonder Behandlung). It was well known to the whole camp that S.B. meant the gas chamber.
Were you ever told anything about the gas chamber by your senior officers? - No, the prisoners told me about it.
You have been accused of choosing prisoners on these parades and sending them to the gas chamber. Have you done that? - No; I knew that prisoners were gassed.
Did you carry a pistol at Auschwitz, in Camp "C"? - Yes. It was rather dangerous in the last months to be without a pistol because of the partisans, and I carried it only for self-protection. It was not loaded. I did not carry a pistol at Belsen and have never fired at a prisoner. I fired a sporting gun into the air on New Year's Eve.
At Auschwitz did you ever have a dog? - No. There were trained dogs there, but I had nothing to do with them.
Did you ever order prisoners to kneel down at an Appell? - Yes, because we could not properly count; they were running to and fro.
The witness, Szafran, has accused you of beating a girl at Belsen with a riding crop about a fortnight before the British troops arrived, and also that at Auschwitz during a selection two girls jumped out of the window and you shot them while they were lying on the ground. Is that true? - I never shot at all at any prisoner.
The witness Stein told us that at a selection in the summer of 1944 some prisoners tried to hide, but that you saw them, told somebody, and a woman was shot. It was suggested that the woman was shot by an S.S. man on guard. Had you any authority to issue orders to an S.S. guard? - No.
The same witness alleged there was an incident when a mother was talking to her daughter over the wire between two compounds, that you arrived on a bicycle and beat the mother so severely that she was lying on the ground where you kicked her? - I do not deny that I beat her, but I did not beat her until she fell to the ground, and I did not kick her either.
At Auschwitz did you wear a belt with your uniform? - No. I wore the belt and the pistol together.
Stein accused you of setting your dog on to her when you were on a Kommando with the accused Lothe at Auschwitz? - I have never been with Lothe on an outside working party, and, secondly, I never had a dog.
Neiger in her deposition alleges that Appelle were from 0300 hours to 0900 hours. At Auschwitz what was the light like at 0300 hours? - It was very dark. I never got up at 3 o'clock.
Did you ever order the prisoners in your charge to stand holding a large stone above their heads in each hand? - No. I must add that Katherine Neiger was not a single second in my camp, and has never been in my camp.
You have been accused of having shot a Hungarian Jewess outside one of the blocks during the arrival of a transport. Is that true? - I do not deny that the woman had been shot, but I do deny that she was shot by me. I do not know whether it is the same incident, but I remember in Camp "C" a woman was shot by a guard from a watch tower, but whether it is the same woman I cannot say.
Have you at Auschwitz ever been in charge of a Kommando working in a sand-pit, and have you ever sent prisoners to cross a wire in order to be shot? - Never.
Will you tell the Court what the conditions at Belsen were like when you arrived there at the beginning of March this year, and what they were between then and the arrival of the British? - Transports arrived almost daily and the camp was very much overcrowded. I was horrified because the prisoners were so dirty and so ill. I had to attend the roll call twice a week, and every time I came back from the camp I felt horrified.
One of the witnesses who came here told of you "making sport " with a Kommando for half an hour. If that is true, can you remember why you did that? - Yes. I was in my office looking out of the window and saw a group of kitchen workers coming back who were stopped by the Aufseherin. I saw two parcels wrapped in paper thrown away and on looking at these I found that each of them consisted of at least two pounds of meat from the kitchen. I promised the Kommando that I would not report them or do any harm to them if I was told who had thrown these parcels away. They all kept silent and then I said, "Well, then, we have to make sport until the person who has thrown these parcels away tells us about it." We did this for about half an hour, and then some of the prisoners told us who had thrown these parcels away. I did not report this incident as I thought they had been punished enough. I had no riding whip and I did not beat them. I had seen this kind of collective punishment before, but had not ordered it myself. Extra parades and extra drills are a recognised form of punishment in the German service.
At Auschwitz, did you ever consult or plan with Kramer, Klein or Hoessler as to who was to go to the gas chamber? - We never talked about these things. Kramer, Klein and Hoessler were my superior officers, and if Kramer came into the camp I had to make out my report as was my duty, and nothing else.
Have you ever planned with Kramer or any other person now in the dock to put to death in any way or to ill-treat deliberately any person at Auschwitz? - No. I am not capable of making plans and I never made a plan to kill prisoners.
Have you ever planned with them the death or deliberate ill-treatment of a prisoner at Belsen? - Never.
Cross-examined by Lieutenant JEDRZEJOWICZ - Was Dreschel the Aufseherin who was in charge of the whole women's camp in Auschwitz, and was she a severe woman? - Yes, very severe.
Were the prisoners, Blockältesten and Lagerältesten afraid of her in the same way? - Yes.
Who was in a position to withhold food in Belsen Camp as a punishment? - The Kommandant.
Are you quite sure that the Blockaltester or the Lagerältester was not in a position, had no right, no power whatever to withhold food as a punishment for his block or Lager? - Yes.
IRMA GRESE, cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE - You said you went to the hospital at Hohenluchen and wanted to be a nurse there. Was that run by the S.S.? - When I was there it was a sports sanatorium. Later on it became S.S.
After you left there and went to work in this dairy what were you paid? - 40 to 60 marks per month.
What did you get at Ravensbrück? - 54 marks per month.
Why did you get so much less than the others? - Because I was only 18.
Is Ehlert right when she says it was terribly severe at Ravensbrück? -Yes.
There was a lot of beating of prisoners there, was there not? - I did not see it.
An S.S. woman who did not behave badly to the prisoners was punished or moved, was she not? - I do not know.
At the end of your training at Ravensbrück when you went home and told your father what you had been doing , did you quarrel with him and did he turn you out of the house? - Yes.
At Auschwitz when you were a telephone operator did you have to take your turn in looking after the prisoners before they went out in the morning and when they came back in the evening ?-Yes.
Were you not in charge of a Strafkommando out of the camp for a great deal longer than you have told us? - No.
You know Koper quite well. Was she not at Auschwitz whilst you were there for a long time, and with you all the time you were at Belsen? - Yes.
She would hardly mistake you for somebody else, would she? - I do not know.
Were you not in charge of a Strafkommando employed on working at a sand-pit? - I explained already that I was in charge for two days of a Strafkommando which was working in bringing in stones from outside the camp, and that was a punishment for myself.
I know what you told us, and I am suggesting you did not tell us the truth. There was a great deal of sand brought into the camp, too, for the road, was there not? - I do not know.
You were with the Kommando that was building the roads; was there not a lot of concrete used in that camp, and had not the roads got a cement surface? - I do not know.
Do you not know what the prisoners were doing when you were in charge of the Kommando? - They were putting stones into the ground, and they were hammering it in for the purpose of road-making.
Is your story that you never saw the sand-pit true? - I have never seen it.
I suggest to you that when you were at the sand-pit there was a wire round it with guards at intervals, and that you used to amuse yourself by sending women outside the wire so that they would be shot by the guard? - No.
I suggest to you that you gave evidence at an enquiry against a guard who had refused to shoot people crossing the wire on the grounds that you had sent them over deliberately? - You can think what you like, but it is a lie, and it is wrong.
Do you remember two prisoners called Camina Stasika and Karola Miket? - No.
I suggest that both these women were in the same Kommando as the accused Koper, and that that was the Kommando working under your direction in the sand-pit? - No.
Where did the gardening Kommando that you say you were in charge of work? - In the gardens belonging to the S.S. in Auschwitz No. 1, three-quarters of an hour's walk from Birkenau.
Did the prisoners walk? - Yes.
You had a bicycle at Birkenau, did you not ride it? - It was prohibited to use the bicycle for outside working parties.
Did you not have a dog to guard these Kommandos? - No.
They were trained to guard these Kommandos going out of the camp. Why were you not allowed one? - I did not want to have one.
Could you just please yourself what you did in this camp? - No.
Let me put it to you that in fact you had a dog with you and when you were marching the party along, the dog used to round up stragglers? - I should know better whether I had a dog or not.
Triszinska in her affidavit says that she was a member of your Kommando for about five weeks, and that often they had to march about 15 kilometres to a place where they had to pick herbs for the kitchen. Is that right? - No.
Did you have any kitchen garden or vegetable garden for the camp? - Not in the camp. There were several kitchen gardens for the S.S. which my Kommando looked after.
Did they pick any herbs at all? - No.
When you were with this Kommando did you carry a stick? - No, it was not necessary.
I suggest to you that you used your stick to good purpose? - I say I never had a stick, with the exception of Camp "C."
Did women sometimes have to be carried back to the camp by other women? - On the contrary, the women working in my Kommando were very strong. They were Russians, and there was no need at all to carry them back into the camp.
Why? Was that sometimes necessary with other women? - I never saw it.
I suggest that Ilse Lothe was the Kapo working under you? - Never.
And that when she complained about the witness Rozenwayg you set your dog on Rozenwayg? - As I had no dog I could not set it upon Rozenwayg.
You remember her giving evidence in the court and you remember Watinik saying in her affidavit that she saw you set your dog on Rozenwayg, who got bitten in the shoulder? - She might have seen that happen, a dog bite her shoulder, but I never had a dog and I never set a dog upon anybody.
I suggest this to you: that when you went out with these working parties you made a habit of beating women and of kicking them, and you enjoyed it? - And I say that you are badly informed about me, and that it is a big lie.
Your sister said that when you were a little girl you were frightened to stand up for yourself, and you ran away to avoid a fight. I now suggest to you that you found it great fun to hit somebody who could not hit back? - No.
Gertrud Diament in her deposition said that your favourite habit was to beat women until they fell to the ground and then kick them as hard as you could with your heavy boots? - That is a lie. Perhaps it is her habit to lie.
You affected heavy top-boots and you liked to walk round with a revolver strapped on your waist and a whip in your hand, did you not? - I did not like it.
You thought it was very clever to have a whip made in the factory and even when the Kommandant told you to stop using it you went on, did you not ? - Yes.
What was this whip really made of? - Cellophane paper plaited like a pigtail. It was translucent like white glass.
The type of whip you would use for a horse? - Yes.
Then most of these prisoners who said they saw you carrying a riding whip were not far wrong, were they? - No, they were not wrong.
Did the other Aufseherinnen have these whips made too? - No.
It was just your bright idea? - Yes.
In Lager "C " you used to carry a walking-stick, too, and sometimes you beat people with the whip and sometimes with the stick? - Yes.
Were you allowed to beat people? - No.
So it was not a question of having orders from your superiors to do it. You did this against orders, did you? - Yes.
Were you the only person who beat prisoners against regulations? - I do not know.
Did you ever see anyone else beat prisoners? - Yes.
Did you sometimes get orders to do so? - No
Did you give orders to other Aufseherinnen working under you to beat prisoners? - Yes.
Had you the right to give such authorization? - No.
You went to Lager "C" in May, 1944; is that the time the gassings of the Hungarians began, when the transports were coming in day and night? - Yes.
The Kapos were Czechoslovaks, were they not? - Yes.
That was the practice at Auschwitz, was it not, to have the Aeltesten as far as possible of some other country? - No, it was nothing to do with that. Those Blockältesten I had in my camp knew their jobs from previous times. The Hungarians arrived 1000 per block and they would not have known how to organise the whole block.
Nobody could organise a block which was meant to hold at the most 200 if you put 1000 into it without beds, could they? - This overcrowding was only for one or two weeks.
Why? - Were they killed off pretty quickly? - Those people who came to me in Camp "C" were all strong people, fit for work and they went out on working parties.
Was it not quite simple to know whether or not the selection was for the gas chamber, because only Jews had to attend such selections? - I myself had only Jews in Camp "C."
Then they would all have to attend the selection for the gas chamber, would they not? - Yes.
As you were told to wait for the doctors you would know perfectly well what it was for? - No.
When these people were parading they were very often paraded naked and inspected like cattle to see whether they were fit to work or fit to die, were they not? - Not like cattle.
You were there keeping order, were you not, and if one ran away you brought her back and gave her a beating? - Yes.
Lebowitz in her affidavit says she often saw you with Dr. Mengele selecting people for the gas chamber and for forced work in Germany, and that if you saw relations trying to get together in selections for forced work you beat them until they were unconscious and left them lying on the ground. Is that true? - It is true that when they ran away I brought them back and I might have beaten them, but it is imagination to say I have beaten them till they lay on the ground or until they were bleeding or perhaps until they were dead.
The witness Ilona Stein said that prisoners that tried to escape were shot if they got far, or were brought back and were terribly beaten till they bled all over the place, and were put back in their lines again. Is that true? - Why should one shoot people inside the camp? There is barbed wire around the camp so they cannot escape.
You remember an S.S. woman called Dreschel. As Rapportführerin did she attend selections with Dr. Mengele and sometimes the Kommandant? - Yes.
Stein said that on a particular occasion when Kramer, Dr. Mengele, Dreschel and yourself were present at a selection, some prisoners tried to hide and that you pointed them out to a guard, with the result that one was killed and one was badly wounded? - I do not know. I have not seen it.
Do you remember being on a selection in Camp "A"? - Never.
There were selections in Camp "A," were there not ? - Yes.
Some Aufseherinnen must have been present, must they not? - I do not know.
It would be very unusual to have a selection without an Aufseherin, would it not ? - No, on the contrary.
Who would do all these duties on the selections if there were no Aufseherinnen present? - As I was not interested in it I do not know.
Then why do you say it would be unusual for an Aufseherin to be present if you were not interested? - Because all the Aufseherinnen had their jobs with outside Kommandos or in the administration office.
Is that not just why you had to be brought in on occasions? - No.
You would be the handiest person, of course, when you were in the Blockführerin's room? - I had my duties; I was not allowed to leave the telephone.
I suggest to you that on selection in Block 9, Camp "A," two girls jumped out of the window and that you went up to them and shot them whilst they lay on the ground? - No.
When people were sent to the gas chamber, you entered that up in your books as "special treatment" on instructions given by Dreschel. Were you forbidden to speak outside the camp about such things? - I do not know whether it was allowed, but I know it was not prohibited. It was already kept secret through the fact that you were never allowed to
Did you often keep prisoners as long as three and four hours on Appelle? - Not so long-an hour, or perhaps it might have been two hours. When I said before, three or four hours, that was an exception.
And you made people stand still then, did you not? - Of course.
If they moved they were beaten, were they not? - That is nonsense. I do not say that they were not allowed to move.
If people did not behave as you wanted them to on Appelle, did you sometimes make them kneel? - Yes.
On other occasions did you not make some people hold stones above their heads? - No, that is imagination. I have seen other people doing it.
Who made them do that? - I do not know. I have never seen it in "C" Lager.
I suggest that if any of these internees did not stand still on the Appell you either made them kneel or hold stones above their heads for a long time, and if they faltered you beat them? - No.
In her affidavit, Dunklemann said you had your hair up at the back? - I did not wear my hair in that way at all. I had a sort of drum of pigtails, and that was quite low on the neck.
This new hair style with the curls hanging down is something new since you left Belsen, is it not? - Yes, that originated in the prison in Celle.
Ehlert used to wear her hair down at the back and she has put it up since she came here. Of course it is not as easy to recognise people when you come and look at them in the dock if they have changed their hair style completely, is it? - The face is always the same.
Do you think that Ehlert looks now as she looked at Belsen? - Slightly different.
Several witnesses in their depositions say that you were the worst S.S. woman in the camp? - Yes, they say so. They are all lying. These people exaggerated and made an elephant out of a small fly.
You did get rather rapid promotion for a young girl, did you not? - No.
From a girl in the dairy to being in charge of 30000 women in a matter of two years is pretty rapid promotion, is it not? - That has nothing to do with the dairy.
Were you not specially chosen for "C" Lager when they began to gas the Hungarians? - No. There were very few Aufseherinnen, and as the Post Office Censor Department was closed I had no particular duty.
Was it on the strength of that appointment that you thought it would be a bright idea to carry a whip round with you? - When I carried a whip I was not promoted at all. I was promoted on 1st January, 1945, after having left Birkenau.
Were you promoted as a reward for your services in liquidating Camp "C"? - Camp "C" was not liquidated, it was transferred into Camp "A."
Do you or do you not remember the incident when a mother was trying to talk to her daughter across the wire and you beat her till she fell to the ground? - No.
Have you beaten so many women that you cannot remember whether it happened or not? - I do not remember this incident, and I did not beat so many women that I would not be able to remember.
The witness Ilona Stein speaks of an incident when you kicked her too. I suggest to you that you regularly kicked people and it was all part and parcel of this business of swaggering around in top-boots? - I would like to know who has seen me swaggering in the camp. I have never kicked anyone with my foot.
When you arrived at Belsen with a transport, did you ask Kramer if you could stay and then he applied for you and you stayed? - Yes.
Were you Arbeitsführerin, and was it part of your duty to stand at the gate when the working parties were going out and coming in? - Yes.
Did you not regularly beat people at that gate? - I would like to ask you to leave out this word "regularly." I have never beaten prisoners at the gate.
Did you regularly carry your whip at Belsen? - No.
What did you do during the day after the working parties had gone out and before they came back in the evening? - I went with my working party into the wood to look for material for preparing wreaths for the S.S. people who were dying in great numbers from typhus. I also saw to it that the camp should be neat and tidy.
You used to go round inspecting the camp, did you not? - No.
Then how did you see whether it was neat and tidy ? - I was mostly concerned with the gardens and ornaments in front of the kitchen, and told the prisoners what to do. I did not bother about the cleanliness or tidiness of the camp because there were others responsible for those things.
I suggest to you that you carried on at Belsen just as you had done at Auschwitz, beating, kicking and making people kneel and making people hold stones over their heads? - No. Only once I gave orders to a kitchen working party to do some sport, but, of course, without holding stones in their hands.
Did you not make one Kommando do sport for half an hour because one of the girls dropped a piece of rag as they were marching in from work? - No. It was because somebody threw two parcels away, each containing 3 lb. of meat.
Did you realise that people were dying all around you at Belsen? - Of course I realised it.
Did you realise the amount of food that these prisoners were getting, and did you think that that was a proper way to treat them? - No.
Your sister told us at the beginning that you were a little coward when you were a little girl. Is it not true that your tried to curry favour with the prisoners when you knew that the British were coming? - No, never.
You had always treated them very severely, had you not? - Yes.
But the last few days was quite a different story, and you tried to mix with the prisoners? - Why should I ?
Do you remember saying to the witness Lasker, "It will soon be the end, and we will be liberated"? - I have never spoken to Anita Lasker at all.
Let me just put this finally to you, that you went into the Concentration Camp Service as a frightened young girl, according to your sister a cowardly little girl, and found yourself for the first time in a position to strike people when they could not strike you back? - Yes, it might have been that I was frightened as a child, but I grew up in the meantime.
I suggest to you that you gloried in your jackboots and your pistol and your whip ? - Gloried? I could not say so.
And that you beat and ill-treated prisoners to such an extent that even you were told to stop carrying a whip, and that you continued to do it? - I have beaten prisoners, but I have not ill-treated them, and it was not prohibited for me personally to carry a whip. it was a general order emanating from the Kommandant that whips would not be carried any more.
And I suggest to you that when you got to Belsen you asked to be allowed to stay there and continue your conduct right up to the time that you knew the British were coming into the camp? - If I had wanted to continue this behaviour I would not have needed to ask permission to stay in Belsen. I could have continued to do so in the other camps. It was for quite a different reason.
Re-examined by Major CRANFIELD - Were your jackboots issued to you with your uniform, and did all the Aufseherinnen at Auschwitz wear them? - Yes.
Was your revolver at Auschwitz an issue, and were you ordered to wear it? - Yes, we were told it was for self-protection.
Were you told against whom it was to protect you? - Yes, against the Partisans.
Will you tell the Court why you asked Kramer to let you stay at Belsen? - It is a private affair. I got to know an S.S. man in Auschwitz who was transferred to Belsen, and that is the reason why I wanted to stay.
By the JUDGE ADVOCATE - In Belsen did you ever take part in what you called "making sport"? - I myself made sport with the prisoners.
It was rather strenuous for the prisoners, was it not? - Yes.
Were there people in Belsen in March and April who were fit to do that strenuous kind of exercise? - Yes.
Were you the youngest of the Aufseherinnen or not? - I was the youngest in Auschwitz.
Major CRANFIELD - It is part of my case that the affidavit evidence is unreliable, and to prove that I wish to put in the affidavits made by the witnesses who came here in person. In an ordinary case it might be said that the affidavit should have been put in at the time when the witness was here, but when Major Munro mentioned that he intended to put the affidavits in, the Court ruled that that was not the time to do it. Some witnesses who came here made an affidavit containing a single accusation against one of the accused, but when they were in the box they failed to recognise the accused. That being so, the defending officer concerned did not put the affidavit to the witness.
It is my case now that there are discrepancies between the evidence of the witnesses in the box and what they said in their statements, and in order to prove that I have got to put in the affidavits themselves. These affidavits are authentic documents, in just the same way as the other affidavits in the case, and they assist in proving or disproving the charge because they show what reliability one can give to the affidavits coming from that source, namely, No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team.
The JUDGE ADVOCATE - Major Cranfield is right when he says that in the normal way when a witness comes in person into the court you cross-examine her in the witness box to see whether she has made a different statement from what she has said in court. If she agrees that she has made that statement, then later on the defending officer could say, "you should not believe that woman because she has told a different story." If she denies she ever made the statement when she is questioned in the witness box, then, and then only, is it usual to draw her attention to the written document, and if she does not remember it or does not admit it, then cross-examine her as to whether she made that statement. I thought that had been done and the documents were not put in because I understood the defending officers were satisfied that they had made their points as regards that particular piece of evidence. Now I gather Major Cranfield is in effect saying, "Under Regulation 8 I want to put before you affidavits which have been made by witnesses who have been here personally, and I want to show that those affidavits contained either different stories, or an additional story, or did not contain the story which they told in the box."
Colonel BACKHOUSE - As a matter of practical politics I do not know if it matters a lot because the Court have had a copy all the way through, but as a matter of theory it is a most improper suggestion because the proper time for one to suggest that a witness has said something at one time and is now saying something different in the box is when the witness is in the box and has an opportunity of explaining it. If these documents are put in I shall ask the Court to pay no attention to these differences if they exist because the witness was not asked to explain them. If my friend suggests there were differences he should have asked about them at the proper time. He had his opportunity of cross-examining those witnesses, but if he wants to suggest they told one story at one time in one place and a different story at another time in another place, they should come back and be given an opportunity of explaining it. If the defending officers do not want to draw the witness's attention to an affidavit because she has failed to recognise somebody in the dock, then they cannot put the affidavit in afterwards and say, "Well, you see it never happened, because she missed the incident out." Whereas if it had been put to her she might very well have given it. I cannot lead my witnesses any more than the Defence are allowed to lead theirs, and the result, is that very often you have a witness who, when he goes into the court, does not remember all the things he has said before. The Defence can put the incident to them. They call direct the witness's attention straight to that point, and the very good rule of practice is that if you want to question a witness about a previous statement, or if you want to question the veracity of the previous statement in any way, the proper time to do it and the only time to do it is when the witness is in the box and can answer questions upon it, and explain the differences. Quite early in this case it was suggested that it was improper to put in an affidavit when the witness was present. You suggested that yourself, Sir, as a matter of fact, and I did not put it in and it was agreed that that was the proper practice. These witnesses have been present. It makes no difference if the affidavit is put in then or withheld. My friend had his opportunity at the proper time when he could have assisted the Court a lot if he had said to the witness, "Now, you have told a totally different story on another occasion, is not it false ?" I understood his point was that it was not the witness he was seeking to discredit but the whole system of the affidavits by saying that they do not represent what the witness would say in the box. It is quite wrong for him to say, "Now you see how unreliable these affidavits are because she has said something different," when he does not give the witness an opportunity of saying on oath that they are both true or explaining how the difference arose. That is just what he should have done, and if he does not do it, then in my submission they should not be put in. I think it is quite academic because, of course, the Court have them in front of them, and their minds were directed to the affidavits each time. I have not the slightest doubt that the Court have long since compared these things with the evidence given in the box, but as a matter of principle I think it would be wrong to admit them at this stage. Had they been put in quite properly when the witness could have made an explanation, they might have helped us a lot, but in this way they could not help.
The JUDGE ADVOCATE - Colonel Backhouse, what you have just said somewhat disquietens me because I am here principally to ensure that at the close of the case I indicate what in my view may be treated as evidence against each accused, and if an affidavit has not been put in or has only been used on a specific point, I must direct the Court that, whether they can do that or not, in law they must not take into account the affidavits which were not produced, and they must not deal with the whole of an affidavit if only one portion of that document was put in in evidence.
Colonel BACKHOUSE - I will agree with that at once, but I am sure you will agree it is not only the right but the duty of the Court, which has a Summary of Evidence put before it, to compare the abstract with the evidence which the witness is giving, and it is not only right but it is the normal practice of the Court to draw attention to the discrepancies. I have no doubt at all that you Sir, as judge Advocate, when those witnesses were giving their evidence, followed it on the abstract, and you would obviously put to them any discrepancies which you though, had been left by the Defence. It is a question purely of something which should have been done and was done, because I am sure you would have done it yourself, and put the abstract to the witness if there was a material discrepancy. It is my firm recollection that at the time these things were put to them. If these affidavits go in, my friend will appreciate that they go in at their face value as affidavits, and events which are spoken to therein then become sworn evidence by witnesses. My friend has had the opportunity of cross-examining on the abstract with regard to any discrepancy there may have been, but the Prosecution have been unable to put to the witness what has been in the affidavit if the witness at the time did not speak to it. Now he is going to put the Prosecution in the position of taking advantage of that evidence as well, and if he wants to do that it is up to him.
Major CRANFIELD - It is part of our case that the witnesses have failed to come up to their statements when in the box, and that these are grounds for being very cautious when we consider the documentary evidence in this case. In our speeches we propose to comment on the discrepancies between a witness's statement in the affidavit and a witness's statement in the witness box, but it occurred to us that if we did do this the Prosecutor might very well have objected, because he would say the affidavit of this witness was not any evidence and we could not comment on it.
Colonel BACKHOUSE - I shall not say that. I should say he must not comment on the discrepancies because he did not put them to the witness. I should say that undoubtedly, whether the document is before the Court or not, because I would say that if you want to comment on the fact that a witness has told a different story at one time to the story which he has told before the Court, there is only one time at which you are allowed to put that, that is when the witness is in the box, and so give her an opportunity of tying up those two stories.
Major CRANFIELD - One has to realise whatever happens in the Criminal Courts in England they are not run under the Rules of Procedure of the Royal Warrant, and people don't have brought against them about 150 affidavits and about 20 oral witnesses. By far the greater part of the evidence is documentary, and we feel that whatever the regulations may be in the ordinary way it is essential for us to be able to challenge the documentary evidence on the basis of comparing the statement which a man gave at Belsen to a member of the War Crimes Investigation Team, their arrangements, their translators, their officers who took the statement, their sergeants, the whole arrangements under which this evidence is produced, with what the man says in the box.
Major MUNRO - If these affidavits are put in merely as a basis of comparing to allow the Court to judge the weight of the other affidavits, then I shall associate myself with the application; but if, having been put in, they are to be used as evidence themselves against the accused. then I dissociate myself with the application.
Captain ROBERTS - Though we may in cross-examination have put the substance of what the witness said in her statement to her we are also interested in not only what she did say at that time, but to whom she said it, at what date she said it, who was the interpreter, who took the statement from her, and a number of other things of a similar nature. it is not only the evidence or alleged evidence contained in the affidavit that is of importance, it is the whole form of the document.
Captain CORBALLY - The evidence deals with atrocities, and is deposed to in an affidavit, and the person alleged to have committed these atrocities is then not identified to the Court. You can cross-examine a witness about her memory of an atrocity having taken place, and about how well she knew the person who was supposed to have done it, but you cannot possibly stand up the accused in the dock and say, "Is that the person who has done it?" That is going much too far. The identification of the prisoners in the dock by witnesses took place here under the most fair circumstances, and the prisoners were made to stand up one row at a time. If in these circumstances the witness fails to recognise a person, then it is surely a matter for comment by the defending officer concerned that here is an affidavit about an atrocity which is deposed to on oath as being committed by a person he says he knows very well and yet in the court cannot recognise.
Captain PHILLIPS - As to the question of admissibility or otherwise, in my submission the point is that these are and must be admissible under Regulation 8, whatever may be the practice anywhere else. This Court acts under those regulations and no other.
Colonel BACKHOUSE - When Captain Roberts says he wants to know who took the statement and so on, he had ample opportunity of cross-examining on that if he wanted to because the Defence were invited to and did ask me to bring certain people here who took the affidavits. Two they asked for and two they got, and they had an opportunity of cross-examining them. I am afraid I must entirely disagree with Captain Corbally. If he wants to say this affidavit is unreliable because in it the witness says, for example, "I identify Kramer," and on arriving here looks round and does not recognise Kramer, you have got to take the risk and you have got to tell Kramer to stand up and you have got to ask the witness, "Now, is that the man?" You cannot say afterwards that because when they looked round they did not see somebody. the original affidavit was wrong. You must not keep quiet when the witness is in the box and after they have gone stand up and say, " Obviously their story is all wrong because they failed to recognise somebody." Maybe, as I pointed out to the Court at the time and as Grese admitted, some of them have changed their appearance quite a lot, in some cases I suggest it was deliberate and in others probably not deliberate at all. But if you want to suggest that they have got the wrong person, then the proper time to do it is when the witness is here and can give an answer. Captain Phillips says that the regulation says so, and that is that. There is the proper time to put that. If you cross-examine on an affidavit or deposition you put in the affidavit or the deposition, but you cannot comment on it afterwards if you do not do that at the proper time, and these regulations do not say anything about the proper time, the wrong time, or any other time. I say there is a proper time, and they have chosen as a matter of tactics not to put it in at the proper time. They have chosen not to remind the witnesses of the incidents of which they now want to complain when these witnesses were here. Having chosen not to take the risk of the witness saying, "Yes, that is the man I mean," they now want to say that the witness's stories are untrue. I say they have missed their opportunity and have not taken the course they should have done. Major Munro cannot have it both ways. Either they go in for all purposes or they do not. I am not surprised that on general lines he supports my view that the Defence should not be allowed to cut their own throats.
The JUDGE ADVOCATE - The Court have taken an oath to try these accused according to the evidence, and the only evidence that you can have before you is the evidence of witnesses in the witness box, or documentary evidence which is properly put before you. The defending officers, if they wanted to question a witness who gave evidence on oath, should have questioned him when he was here, and I do not see that they would have been limited in any way in asking any questions about statements they had made before. If they had got the right answers they could have founded any sort of argument as to the unreliability of those particular depositions, and then argued from that that the whole system of taking depositions was not sound and, therefore, in the cases where they could not cross-examine because it was merely a document, they would ask the Court to pay less weight to that particular document because of the way in which these documents as a whole had been taken. Are you going to say that you cannot allow such affidavits to go in? If you do this, then that is the end of it. On the other hand, if you say, "No, we are prepared to allow the defending officers to attack the system under which the affidavits were taken and we are going to allow them to put in as documents admissible under Regulation 8 affidavits which have never been before the Court," then that is a matter for your consideration.
(The Court closed and re-opened.)
The JUDGE ADVOCATE - The Court have considered the legal argument delivered. If there are any witnesses who gave evidence in this court personally and they were cross-examined in regard to affidavits that they had made and those affidavits were not put in evidence, the Court will allow any defending officer to put in such an affidavit if he wishes during the course of his defence for the purpose of establishing the manner in which these affidavits may have been taken. On the other hand, the Court feel that in the case of a witness who gave evidence in person and was not cross-examined at all in regard to an affidavit, that they should not now admit such an affidavit, because in their view it would carry no weight with them at all unless it was accompanied by a cross-examination of the witness so that they could appreciate exactly what her evidence would be in regard to the taking of that affidavit.
The Trial (Defence - Evidence for the Defendant Irma Grese)